Interview with California Senate Candidate Carly Fiorina

Interview with California Senate Candidate Carly Fiorina

By The Situation Room - October 11, 2010

BLITZER: She's trying to break the Democrats' nearly two decades' hold on California's Senate seats. And here are a few things you should know about the Republican candidate Carly Fiorina.

Search is one of the most powerful women in the U.S. tech industry. She was CEO of Hewlett-Packard for six years, executive at Lucent and AT&T before that, having worked her way up from secretary and receptionist positions.

More recently, she was an adviser to Senator John McCain's presidential campaign. Now she's challenging the California Senator Barbara Boxer.

And Carly Fiorina is joining us now.

Thanks very much for coming in.

CARLY FIORINA (R), CALIFORNIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be back with you, Wolf. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Let's go through some of the issues that are out there. Barbara Boxer, her campaign keeps saying that, when you were CEO of Hewlett-Packard, you laid off 30,000 workers. Is that true?

FIORINA: You know, Barbara Boxer is saying just about anything to try and distract attention from her record of 28 years of failure.

I managed Hewlett-Packard through the technology recession, the worst in 25 years, the dot-com bust. But, net-net, we created jobs. Sadly, here in California, however, jobs are being destroyed every day. We have 23 counties with unemployment above 15 percent.

Where has Barbara Boxer been for the last six years, the last 12 years, the last 18 years, the last 28 years that she's been in Washington, D.C.? Where she has she been?

Where she's been is voting for more taxes, voting for more borrowing and spending. She has been profiting from her own time in public office, as has her family members. So it's time that the voters of California understand, what's at stake in this election...

BLITZER: All right.

FIORINA: ... are jobs and out-of-control government spending and the fact that Barbara Boxer has acted as if she isn't accountable to the voters of California.

BLITZER: So, the 30,000 figures who were laid off during -- I guess the dot-com bust, if you will, I guess that's true, even though you say you created more jobs than you than you had -- were forced to lay off? Is that what you're saying?

FIORINA: Yes. Net-net, we created jobs.

BLITZER: What does that mean, net-net?


FIORINA: Well, it means there were more employees working for Hewlett-Packard the day I left than the day I arrived.

And a lot of those jobs were important R&D jobs. They were manufacturing jobs. We are destroying the manufacturing base in our country because of the policies that Barbara Boxer has pursued. That's why the California Manufacturing and Technology Association has endorsed me, their first endorsement in 92 years.

We are also losing our competitive advantage and our edge in innovation. That's why I believe we need to make very clear strides to improve our competitive position, like, for example, making our R&D tax credit No. 1 in the world. It's now No. 17 in the world.

Barbara Boxer has had plenty of time to grapple with the huge issues we have in this state of unemployment, of a declining manufacturing base. She's had plenty of time to deal with out-of- control government spending. She hasn't dealt with any of it.

BLITZER: Let's get to some other issues. Do you see yourself as part of the Tea Party movement?

FIORINA: You know, I see myself as a citizen running for public office for the very first time. I see myself as serving the voters of California. There are Tea Parties, and I would say plural, in California. There's a Tea Party in Marin County. There's a Tea Party in San Diego. But there are many independent voters, decline-to-state voters, Democrats as well as Republicans who are endorsing and supporting my candidacy.

This is about how to get our state and our nation back on the right track. Believe it or not, 78 percent of the swing voters here in California believe that our nation is headed in the wrong direction and believe that Barbara Boxer has been in Washington, D.C., too long.

BLITZER: You're neck and neck in this most recent Reuters/IPSOS poll. Barbara Boxer, 49 percent; Carly Fiorina, 45 percent, but 4.5 percent sampling error.

Sarah Palin is coming to California to do this big event there, but you and Meg Whitman, who is running for governor, you're going to stay away from that event. How come?

FIORINA: Well, because I'm doing a whole series of other events including an event with veterans with John McCain. As you, of course, can appreciate, your campaign schedule gets set quite far out in advance in terms of commitments. Sarah Palin is here to endorse her book, I believe, and to raise money, and I am here running for office. So we're all busy. And it's important that I continue to meet with as many voters as possible, because this is a very important election. And I believe the voters of California agree with me that the direction of our state and our nation is at stake here.

BLITZER: I remember during the campaign the McCain campaign, you said at the time -- you got into trouble for saying it -- you didn't think Sarah Palin was qualified to run a major corporation like Hewlett-Packard, but she's endorsed you now. Do you think she's qualified to be president of the United States?

FIORINA: I certainly think she's qualified to be president of the United States. You may remember, Wolf, I also said that Barack Obama, John McCain and Joe Biden weren't qualified to run a major corporation.

Look, you need technical skills to run a company. I couldn't fly a jet airplane tomorrow either. But ours was intended to be a citizen government. That is what "of, by, and for the people" means. And somehow we've grown accustomed to career politicians like Barbara Boxer, who has done nothing else in her professional life, virtually, other than be a politician. It isn't what our Founding Fathers intended.

And I think a lot of people in California want someone who hasn't been in Washington forever, who isn't a bitter partisan who has accomplished nothing virtually. That's why her own hometown paper wouldn't endorse her. They called her ineffective and bitterly partisan.

They want, instead, someone to go to Washington who has a track record of solving problems, who has a track record of reaching out and working with other people to get something done. That's what we've got to do now, get something done.

BLITZER: Let's get to some specific issues to differentiate between you and Barbara Boxer. You can probably give me quick yes or no answers on these. She supports, Barbara Boxer, medical marijuana with a doctor's prescription. Do you?

FIORINA: Well, if it's with a doctor's prescription, if we're using marijuana as a medicine, then let's regulate it as a medicine. I'm a cancer survivor. I battled breast cancer last year. And I remember well the doctors that I had warning me about the dangers of medicinal marijuana. It's not truly well understood. It's abused terribly in this state. If it's truly going to be a medicine, then it should be prescribed as a medicine.

BLITZER: She supports gay marriage. Do you?

FIORINA: You know, I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I certainly support civil unions. I am where the president of the United States and the vast majority of the U.S. Senate is on this issue.

BLITZER: Abortion rights, she supports abortion rights for women. I suspect you don't, but explain.

FIORINA: Well, I personally am pro-life. And I know that not all women agree with me. But it is Barbara Boxer who is extreme in her views here. She supports partial birth abortion. She says that babies don't have rights until they leave hospitals.

But you know what, Wolf? All the issues that you just asked me about are not the issues on voters' minds this year. What's on voters' minds is jobs. Where are they? We have a 12.4 percent unemployment rate here in California.

BLITZER: We started off with...

FIORINA: And their minds are also on out-of-control government spending. Our debt has grown from $10.7 trillion to 13 trillion...

BLITZER: Whoops. Unfortunately, we lost that signal. We apologize to Carly Fiorina. Hopefully, we'll have her back. Carly Fiorina, the Republican Senate candidate. We've invited Barbara Boxer to join us as well. Hopefully, she'll say yes. So far, we have received a "no" answer from Barbara Boxer. Hopefully, she'll say yes down the road. We thank Carly Fiorina for that.


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